May 2009

Yankees vs. Indians: 5/31/09

yankees.jpgYANKEES (29-20)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Hideki Matsui DH
Nick Swisher RF
Brett Gardner CF
Francisco Cervelli C

Pitching: Phil Hughes (3-2, 5.16)

indians.jpgINDIANS (21-30)
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Ben Francisco LF
Jhonny Peralta 3B
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Mark Derosa DH
Ryan Garko 1B
Kelly Shoppach C
Luis Valbuena 2B
Trevor Crowe C

Pitching: Carl Pavano (5-4, 5.50)

Yankees vs. Indians: 5/30/09

yankees.jpg

Yankees:

Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada – C
Hideki Matsui – DH
Nick Swisher RF
Brett Gardner CF

CC Sabathia – P

indians.jpg

Indians

Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Grady Sizemore DH
Victor  Martinez C
Jhonny Peralta 3B
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Mark Derosa LF
Ryan Garko 1B
Ben Francisco CF
Jamey Carroll 2B

Fausto Carmona – P

Yankees vs. Indians: 5/29/09

yankees.jpgYANKEES (27-20)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Hideki Matsui DH
Nick Swisher RF
Brett Gardner CF

Pitching: Andy Pettitte (4-1, 4.30)

indians.jpgINDIANS (21-28)

Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Grady Sizemore DH
Victor Martinez 1B
Jhonny Peralta 3B
Mark DeRosa LF
Ben Francisco RF
Jamey Carroll 2B
Kelly Shoppach C
Trevor Crowe CF

Cliff Lee P

Posada on his way

By Jon Lane
The Yankees are about to get a lot stronger. After playing six innings in an extended Spring Training game Thursday, Jorge Posada told The Associated Press he was scheduled to fly to Cleveland to meet his teammates for the start of a four-game series against the Indians Friday night.

Posada has been sidelined since straining his right hamstring May 4 and I don’t need to remind you how valuable he is to the Yankees. Someone will need to be dropped from the roster to make room for Posada. At this point it makes too much sense to DFA Angel Berroa. He hasn’t had an at-bat since May 4, and young defensive whiz Ramiro Pena serves the same purpose. Besides, you want to carry three catchers to cover yourself in case that tricky hamstring acts up again and until Jose Molina returns you’ll want to stash away Kevin Cash, who in a pinch can fill in at third base. Molina (strained left quadriceps) is working out in Tampa, but not ready for game action yet.

Of equal significance is Xavier Nady’s two hits in five at-bats, including an opposite-field homer to right, while serving as the DH. He’ll fill that spot in New York when he returns to help give Hideki Matsui a blow and eventually take over right field. Nick Swisher is a great guy whose positive energy is contagious, but he’s batting .223 (.127 this month). He’s being spared a night or two on the bench with Melky Cabrera out at least a week.

Passionate defenses

joba_250_052809.jpgBy Jon Lane
Wow! Such fervor on YESNetwork.com these days. The source of it is a 23-year-old kid from Nebraska who set a standard so high as a set-up man that everything he does is measured against it. And each time he fails or simply takes his lumps, his destiny has to be altered permanently.

Yeah, here we go again. Joba Chamberlain belongs in the bullpen. It’s a topic that just won’t go away (at least we’re not discussing PEDs, the height of annoyance, this time) and right now it’s hot. Chamberlain has labored as a starter, Chien-Ming Wang is not in the rotation and everyone in the Yankees ‘pen not named Mariano Rivera can’t be completely trusted. Since we live in a town that demands instant gratification, Joba to the ‘pen will solve all the Yankees’ problems.

I’m not suggesting this is an argument without merit. It is. Chamberlain was fantastic in his eighth-inning role and only midges off Lake Erie dented him in 2007. Pitching out of the ‘pen allows him to go from zero to 100 using his best two pitches (2 > 4, writes Chris Shearn) while thriving off his emotion. Somebody has to eventually replace Rivera and Chamberlain is currently the best candidate to do it. Many made their points and they’re all valid. Kim Jones is practical. Mike Francesa is angry. Jerome Preisler combines passion with historical precedent. You the readers are speaking too. At last check of our homepage poll, it was 171-5 with the belief that Chamberlain will be back in the bullpen before season’s end. I can’t scientifically prove it, but there are probably many who initially believed in Joba the starter have since changed their tune, which is their right.

I’m not budging. Why are we drawing conclusions after 21 career starts? Does Joba have to be Rick Porcello or Justin Verlander, two guys off the top of my head who instantly met (or meeting) success as rookie starters? Do enough people study the cases of Roy Halladay, Tom Glavine or Zack Greinke, the latter who four seasons ago was 5-17 with a 5.80 ERA and now 8-1, 0.84 with five complete games? (Greinke also overcame social anxiety disorder and depression, another layer to his amazing story.)

Another question: Does anyone notice if Chamberlain was pitching in Kansas City?

Look, Joba the starter has been a tease and often frustrating, but 99 out of 100 young starters pegged for greatness experience a learning curve, and some longer than others. If Chamberlain is moved back to the bullpen, you stunt his development and reduce the innings pitched the Yankees are trying to limit anyway. Furthermore, each time Phil Hughes is lights out, he’s the phenom everyone was dreaming about. Every time he bombs – which will happen again – he’s a bust and belongs either in the ‘pen or the Minor Leagues. You can’t have it both ways and the Yankees have made the choice to build not for only this year, but rebuild a program they hope will come close to winning four World Championships in five seasons.

A big part of that is learning from failure and learning how to lose. Chamberlain deserves the same education. Once he’s a finished product he’ll have four dominant out pitches and a fully matured state of mind. I’ll take an elite starter over someone who only gets three outs and isn’t assured of pitching in every close game.

_______________________

Another perspective: The problem isn’t Joba the starter. It’s the construction and handling of the current bullpen. Alfredo Aceves needs a defined role and why Jose Veras is continually asked to get big outs I’ll never figure out. David Robertson is back in the bigs. Use him and not just for mop-up duty. Thankfully for the Yankees, Brian Bruney will be back, and this time every extra precaution will be taken. That will leave you with Bruney – not Chamberlain – as your eighth-inning guy, and young guns Robertson, Mark Melancon and Phil Coke as the underbelly.

A nicely-laid plan unless the Yankees manage to swing a deal for Huston Street.

_______________________

About Wang: Use him too. Don’t wait another nine days to dust him off, but don’t just shrug your shoulders and put him back into the rotation. Injury or not, Wang’s ERA was still 34.50 after three starts and that’s your judge and jury. Hughes got hurt and failed last year. He’s earning his way back. Now it’s Wang’s turn.

Yankees vs. Rangers: 5/27/2009 Lineups

yankees.jpgYANKEES (26-20)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Hideki Matsui DH
Nick Swisher RF
Brett Gardner CF
Kevin Cash C

Pitching: A.J. Burnett (2-2, 5.28)

rangers.jpgRANGERS (27-18)
Ian Kinsler 2B
Michael Young 3B
Josh Hamilton CF
Andruw Jones DH
Nelson Cruz RF
David Murphy LF
Chris Davis 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Elvis Andrus SS

Pitching: Derek Holland (1-1, 4.82)

The Wang approach

wang_250_052709.jpgBy Jon Lane
I’m trying to figure out how and why the Yankees are handling Chien-Ming Wang.

Here’s someone coming into 2009 who was 46-15 with a 3.74 ERA in three seasons and slotted in between CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett in the team’s revamped rotation.

Alright, Wang started  0-3 with a 34.50 ERA,
allowing 23 runs on 23 hits over six innings. Apparently he wasn’t completely over the foot injury that ended his season in 2008 and that contributed to the poor results. So the Yankees disable him to allow him to start from the beginning and clear his head. He throws 13 scoreless innings in two rehab games for Triple-A Scranton. One more was scheduled before his return to the big-league rotation, but that was changed when Joba Chamberlain was struck by a line drive in the first
inning of a game last Thursday, which meant Wang was told to return to New York and serve as a needed arm in a depleted bullpen.

That’s fair. You could not blame the Yankees for making a move they didn’t want to make. The problem now is Wang is stuck in purgatory and the reasons are perplexing. Last night, after Chamberlain was removed after laboring for four innings, was the ideal spot to give Wang not just work, but quality work; the score was 3-1 Rangers in the bottom of the fifth.

Alas, Joe Girardi summoned Alfredo Aceves, who for reasons known only to Girardi pitched a meaningless ninth inning of an eventual 11-1 Yankees win the day before. Wang has thrown three innings in the last nine days. Aceves has been the best out of all of Mariano Rivera’s set-up men.

Alas, Aceves (who has been real good) gave up three runs on four hits in two innings and the Yankees lost 7-5. Girardi said Aceves was his choice because he was the hot hand. So why pitch him in garbage time, in the middle of the game, while a two-time 19-game winner is sitting confused on the bench?

Very strange.

“I just felt like we’d go to Ace,” Girardi said.

Meanwhile, it’s hurry up and wait with Wang, out of the rotation with Phil Hughes pitching well and no chance he goes to the Minors because he’s out of options. The Yankees hope A.J. Burnett can turn it up tonight and lead the Yankees to a series win over a first-place team, but would it hurt to give Wang some work?

“This is very hard for me,” Wang told reporters in Arlington, Texas, before yesterday’s game. “At least I could pitch. Now I don’t know what to do.”

And observers of the team are left wondering why.

How pictures tell the story

By Jon Lane
The good people at Sports Illustrated passed along this release about a new book that presents a pictorial look back at some of the great moments in sports.

Walter Iooss, Neil Leifer, and Heinz Kluetmeier have been on the front lines of sports events for decades. The new book from Sports Illustrated, SLIDE SHOW, features their photographs, in their original slide form, complete with behind the moment notes and anecdotes that guided the pictures from the field to the pages of the magazine. They have never before been seen in this format.

mickcover.jpgThese are three cover shots taken of Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. The one in the center is personally significant. It was the issue that covered Mantle’s death, which hit my father hard. My dad’s favorite player – past, present and future – is the Mick. A copy of this issue is framed and part of his personal museum.

maris.jpgLeifer’s photo of Roger Maris was taken in 1960, one year before he became an unwilling cult hero with his chasing and breaking of Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record. Of course, having Mantle bat behind you meant Maris saw his collection of juicy pitches. If not for an abscessed hip, Mantle and Maris may have both shattered Ruth’s revered mark.

There are other cool images in the book, many subtle but poignant, including the American flag’s position at the 1980 Winter Olympics Hockey semifinals moments before the U.S. Team’s victory over the Soviet Union.

SLIDE SHOW is available to purchase. You can check it out
here.

Yankees vs. Rangers: 5/26/2009

yankees.jpgYANKEES (26-19)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Melky Cabrera CF
Hideki Matsui DH
Nick Swisher RF
Francisco Cervelli C

Pitching: Joba Chamberlain (2-1, 3.70)

rangers.jpgRANGERS (26-18)
TBA

Pitching: Kevin Millwood (4-4, 3.12)

The Pulse of New York

Every Tuesday, YES Blog takes the pulse of New York on the hottest
topics being talked about right now in the world of sports. What’s your
take on the below issues?

Phil Hughes should …(online poll)

Jake Peavy will finish the season as a member of the …(opinion polls)

The Chicago Cubs losing streak will reach how many games before picking up a win?(poll)

MLB’s instant replay procedure …(ning polls)

Which current post season do you find most compelling?(online surveys)